Friday, October 31, 2008

NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow

NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow, on November 1st.
If you are interested, there are online and in person support groups. Here's the Seattle NaNoWriMo group.

from the website:
"National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30."


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Whiting Writers Awards

The 2008 Whiting Writers Awards have been announced. Each winner gets $50,000.

The winners in poetry are Rick Hilles, Douglas Kearney and Julie Sheehan. Essay is Donovan Hohn, and for playwrighting Dael Orlandersmith.

The winners in fiction are Mischa Berlinski, Laleh Khadivi, Manuel Muñoz, Benjamin Percy, and Lysley Tenorio.

I studied with Lysley Tenorio at Stanford, when he was one of the Stegner mafia. Now he's on the faculty at St. Mary's. I'm so happy for him.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Slings and Arrows

I've watched this series about four times. I am not a TV fan. This is not regular TV. Slings and Arrows is a Canadian series written around a Shakespeare festival, clearly based on the Stratford in Ontario, and it has has some of the best writing, and the best acting, I've seen yet.

The first season is built around a production of Hamlet, the second around Macbeth, and the third and final season is King Lear. The stories are backstage, and onstage, with consistent characters and intertwining plot lines that keep me coming back for more.

And the lead actor is Paul Gross, who is quite, quite, well, amazingly decorative. But I'm not interested in his other roles, just the one here. Oh, and it is very funny, in places.

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Reading last night at Hugo House

Last night I had the pleasure of hearing Aimee Bender, Marie Howe, and Matt Ruff read at the kickoff for the Hugo House reading series. Strong readings all, and music by Laurie Katherine Carlsson. I'm already looking forward to the next evening, Friday November 21st, with Ryan Boudinot, Richard Rodriguez and Sallie Tisdale and musician Laura Veirs.

Today I have a workshop with Aimee Bender. I studied with Aimee this summer at Tin House (see blog posting for July 30th for details) so I know I will be generating lots of lively new work, and having a swell time.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Einstein's music

"During his stay in Princeton, New Jersey, Einstein used to play his violin in a string quartet. He enjoyed these sessions, but the other musicians were less enthusiastic about his skills. Complained one of the other players after a private performance, "He can't count."

from The Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes, edited by Clifton Fadiman, 1985.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Matter of Life and Debt by Margaret Atwood

This essay by Margaret Atwood appeared in Tuesday's New York Times (Oct 21, 2008)

My favorite line is:
Had Emma Bovary but learned double-entry bookkeeping and drawn up a budget, she could easily have gone on with her hobby of adultery.

clickety click. Probably need a login, so here's some more:

"The fairness essential to debt and redemption is reflected in the afterlives of many religions, in which crimes unpunished in this world get their comeuppance in the next. For instance, hell, in Dante’s “Divine Comedy,” is the place where absolutely everything is remembered by those in torment, whereas in heaven you forget your personal self and who still owes you five bucks and instead turn to the contemplation of selfless Being...

For her part, Lily Bart in “The House of Mirth” fails to see that if a man lends you money and charges no interest, he’s going to want payment of some other kind.

As for what will happen to us next, I have no safe answers. If fair regulations are established and credibility is restored, people will stop walking around in a daze, roll up their sleeves and start picking up the pieces. Things unconnected with money will be valued more — friends, family, a walk in the woods. “I” will be spoken less, “we” will return, as people recognize that there is such a thing as the common good.

On the other hand, if fair regulations are not established and rebuilding seems impossible, we could have social unrest on a scale we haven’t seen for years.

Is there any bright side to this? Perhaps we’ll have some breathing room — a chance to re-evaluate our goals and to take stock of our relationship to the living planet from which we derive all our nourishment, and without which debt finally won’t matter."


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

George Fortune & George Parr

Two British comedians explain the subprime market crash, in their own, inimitable, dry, and very funny way.

The video is from 2007. Amazing.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Shape of a Box

My pal Jessie Carty has a new magazine on YouTube called Shape of a Box. Check it out.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Sir Edwin Landseer Luytens 1869-1944

"Struggling through the fish course in a famous London restaurant, Luytens observed,'You know, this piece of cod passeth all understanding.'"

from The Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes, edited by Clifton Fadiman, 1985.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fiction Nominees for the National Book Award

The fiction nominees for the National Book Awards are:

Home by Marilynne Robinson

Shadow Country by Peter Matthiessen

The Lazarus Project by Aleksandar Hemon.

Telex From Cuba by Rachel Kushner

The End by Salvatore Scibona.

The fiction judges are Gail Godwin (chair), Rebecca Goldstein,
Elinor Lipman, Reginald McKnight, and Jess Walter.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Aravind Adiga wins Man Booker

from the NY Times article:

"Aravind Adiga, 33, won the 40th Man Booker prize on Tuesday night for his debut novel, “The White Tiger,” a vivid exploration of India’s class struggle told through the story of a village boy who becomes the chauffeur to a rich man...Mr. Adiga said his book was an “attempt to catch the voice of the men you meet as you travel through India — the voice of the colossal underclass.”

“This voice was not captured,” he added, “and I wanted to do so without sentimentality or portraying them as mirthless humorless weaklings as they are usually.”When he accepted the award, Mr. Adiga dedicated it to “the people of New Delhi where I lived and where I wrote this book.” When asked what he would do with the money, Mr. Adiga joked, “The first thing I am going to do is to find a bank that I can actually put it in.”"


Friday, October 10, 2008

Soapstone job

Soapstone, the women's writing retreat on the Oregon coast, is looking for a new director. From the website:

"This is a part-time job, approximately 60 hours a month. Applications will be accepted from January 5, 2009 through Feb. 15; we’re hoping to make a hiring decision by March 15, with the job beginning June 15, 2009. We’re looking for someone with the requisite set of skills who is committed to Soapstone’s goals of supporting women writers and the Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington’s literary community."

For more information, go here.

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Seattle Poet Populist

Vote for Seattle's Poet Populist right here.

from the website:
Nomination: Local arts organizations nominate a candidate for the office of Poet Populist through a formal nomination process.

Election: The general public of the city votes online. One vote per valid email address is allowed, (verified through a proprietary technology). Write-in votes are allowed.

Inauguration: In January, the current Poet Populist will pass the torch to the new office-holder at a reading at the Seattle Public Library. The reading will feature selected past Poets Populist and a reading of the outgoing Poet Populist's commissioned work.

During the next year: The Poet Populist reads at diverse venues in order to promote articulate leadership and visionary art. Seattle's Poet Populist has been invited to read at bookstores, colleges, businesses and at opening ceremonies for new public and private developments.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Jilly Dybka

My pal Jilly Dybka's chapbook, Trouble and Honey, has been reviewed by Bookslut: "This is poetry that encourages attention and patience, as does much of Dybka’s best work."

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Friday, October 03, 2008

good will

"Whenever an encounter between a writer of good will and a regular person of good will happens to touch on the subject of writing, each person discovers, dismayed, that good will is of no earthly use. The conversation cannot proceed."

-Annie Dillard, The Writing Life (1989)

Hmmmmm. I'm not at all sure I agree with the above. Although I have certainly had the encounters Dillard describes. But I feel that it was because I was not able to express myself clearly, because I was not listening attentively, because I don't want to widen the divide. And You, Dear Readers, how do you feel?